The South Shore’s Most Progressive  & Established Dermatology Practice

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinomas (BCC) normally develop on areas of the skin that have been exposed to sunlight. The most common areas are the face, especially the nose, neck, head and the back of hands.

Basal cell carcinoma can form on other parts of the body including the chest, arms and legs. They are slow growing and rarely spread to other parts of the body.

However, early treatment is important as basal cell carcinomas can grow and destroy surrounding healthy tissue. The cause of BCC is primarily due to years of exposure to ultraviolet light.

Exposure to the sun damages the DNA in the skin cells. Often with repeated exposure, the skin is no longer able to repair itself and skin cancer can develop. The risk of developing skin cancer increases significantly after the age of 50.

Who are most at risk?
  • Fair or freckled skin
  • Blond or red hair
  • Blue, green or hazel eyes
  • Tend to burn easily
  • History of excessive sun-exposure in early life
  • Family history of a basal cell carcinoma
  • Personal history of a basal cell carcinoma
Warning Signs
  • Shiny pink or red patch, sometimes with a scaly appearance
  • May be hard or waxy with clear, pale yellow or white in color
  • Dome shaped with visible blood vessels. May have flecks of brown or black on surface
  • Slow growing
  • May ooze intermittently and crust over
  • Tend to bleed easily
Treatments (depending on the size and depth of the lesion and whether or not it has spread)

Excision will cut out the skin cancer as well as a small amount of the surrounding tissue after the area has been numbed. A pathologist then examines the removed tissue.

Curettage and electrodesiccation is a two-step process that removes the tumor by scraping, followed by thermal destruction.

Topical Chemotherapy can be used in the early stages of basal cell carcinomas. This involves creams containing 5-fluorouracil (Carac of Efudex) or Imiquimod(Aldara or Zyclara).

Mohs surgery (pronounced “moes”) is a highly specialized and precise surgery that removes the least amount of tissue to eradicate the cancer and preserve as much healthy tissue as possible. Mohs surgery has the highest cure rate for skin cancers. It is an in-office procedure that may take several hours. The surgeon removes the cancer, as well as a very small amount of the surrounding tissue, which is immediately examined under a microscope. These steps are repeated until the cancer is completely eradicated.

Prevention Tips
  • Wear broad spectrum sunscreens with a minimum of SPF 30
  • Avoid exposure to midday sun, especially between 10am-2pm
  • Wear protective clothing including a wide brimmed hat
  • Wear UV protective sunglasses to protect the eyes
  • Avoid tanning and tanning booths
  • Examine your skin monthly
  • See your dermatologist for regular skin checks

The first step is a consultation appointment. Please call 508-747-0711 or request your consultation online today.